Monday, May 3, 2010


A series for Summer 
[weather permitting]

I'm going to make a confession: I have a Peter Pan complex.  That's right, I don't want to grow up.  As soon as there is a hint of warmth in the air and the sun is shining, my inner child wants to shed this fifty year old body and play.  My thoughts immediately turn to beaches, salty air, candy apples, shorts and amusement parks.  But more than anything I think "mini golf".  I know that regionally some people refer to it as "putt putt" but to me it will always be mini golf.  

My earliest memories of my fascination with the game [game, not sport] are from Cape May, New Jersey.  My family vacationed in that charming Victorian seaside resort.  There is a boardwalk along Beach Avenue with a convention hall, a few stores, Morrow's Nut House, and two arcades.  That's all good but across the street from the boardwalk is the real attraction.  Nestled among the restaurants and surfer shops are two mini golf courses a couple of blocks apart.  One glance from the boards and your eyes are drawn to the giant guardians of the courses.  The ten foot tall bunny, the windmill, the huge [but happy] polar bear are all there calling out to me.  This has remained mostly unchanged.

I was a lucky kid.  I had one particular uncle, Artie, who indulged my curiosity for those bigger-than-life brightly painted characters and crossed Beach Avenue with me and introduced me to mini golf.  Artie wasn't known for his patience but with me and mini golf he had endless patience.  He taught me the fundamentals of the game without bogging me down.  He let me play and experiment and experience for myself with only hints as to what might make me better at the getting that shiny bright ball all the way [maybe 8 feet] down the green carpet, under the creature or up the loop-de-loop, and into the hole!  

I was hooked.  There would never be another summer without a visit to Cape May but more importantly there would never be another summer without mini golf.  For a brief period of my childhood there was a mini golf course one town over from my hometown.  It wasn't as grand as any of those from the New Jersey shore but it was local and it had a frozen custard stand attached as a bonus.  Summer nights of mini golf and lemon ice are about as good as it gets for distraction from the real world. It was a sad Autumn when the custard stand and beloved mini golf course were demolished and replaced with car lot.  

The warm weather has arrived and has once again worked its charm.  My mini golf playmate Carol and I have already begun hitting the local courses.  Over the past couple of years a round of mini golf has become a Sunday ritual.  We usually stay within an hour radius from home and that encompasses quite a few courses for us to choose from.  The courses vary from the kiddy courses with their big characters, reminiscent of those very first courses I played, to the austere, carpeted no-nonsense courses which lull adults into thinking they're more akin to "real" golf.  

My goal for "Monday Mini Golf" is to give reviews and photos of the courses we play along with anecdotes and obligatory rants on the subject of parents not disciplining their misbehaving, screaming children.  

"To live will be a great adventure."
j.m.barrie [peter pan]


  1. We called it miniature golf (weird, huh - that we would call it by its full name in California of all places?), and it's still tied to my memories of visiting my grandparents, which always included several rounds of mini golf when they felt too guilty about our excessive television consumption. We were government brats, deprived of both television and mini golf in American Samoa and Northwestern Alaska, so my grandparents helped us make up for both when we visited! Love the music.....

  2. We, too, call it miniature golf and despite it's "miniature" status, I don't have the patience to finish an entire round. Don't even get me started on "real" golf. I do enjoy the ice cream though, and now that I think about it, most of the miniature golf courses I have visited do offer a frozen confection!

  3. I love that area of Cape May, and, have played Mini Golf there many times. We love to go to Cape May for a few days at the end of the summer - you're right, those places have left unchanged!
    Maria G.

  4. Mini-golf: a summertime must!! Play 0n, Chris!!

  5. Mini golf is big with my family as well. When we are down at our shore house we must play mini golf and everyone must play no one is allowed to sit out. Games are very competitive but in the end we are all happy to get our free Dum-Dum in our favorite flavor.
    Karen P.

  6. Lisa Lanni LampelMay 3, 2010 at 10:12 PM

    I love Cape May! Jeff and I have been there a few times, always stay at the Stockton has a mini golf course on the corner! I'm sure you've played it! We actually took a long weekend there this past summer while we were in NJ, left the kids with my sister in law and went for our always stays the quaint. love it...Lisa